Pakistan hold on to their nerve to level series

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01 Sep 2020 | 04:09 PM
authorPramod Ananth

Pakistan hold on to their nerve to level series

The visitors clinched the final T20I by 5 runs

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In a closely-fought contest, it was Pakistan who emerged on top, winning the third T20 International (T20I) against England by five runs to level the three-match series 1-1. It was Haider Ali (54) and Mohammad Hafeez (86*) who starred with the bat for Pakistan and with the ball, the standout performers were veteran Wahab Riaz (2 for 26), and young gun Shaheen Afridi (2 for 28).

As far as England are concerned, they too had their fair share of moments, but in the end, Moeen Ali (61) was left with too much to do after Tom Banton's 46 early on. 

In pursuit of 191, Shaheen produced the ball of the match, bowling Jonny Bairstow with a perfect yorker for a duck. With Shaheen bowling well, the batsmen targeted Imad Wasim, but they played one shot too many and Dawid Malan was caught at deep mid-wicket for 7. Banton then went after Haris Rauf and England had reached 54 for 2 from their powerplay overs, slightly ahead of Pakistan at this stage. 

However, Pakistan were over the moon after they got rid of England captain Eoin Morgan for 10 - run out after a mix-up with Banton. The two batsmen who guided England to a victory in the previous match - Morgan and Malan - were back in the pavilion and the pressure was on Banton to finish the job this match. However, he too did not last long as Rauf trapped him in front for 31-ball 46, an innings in which he struck eight fours.

The task of resurrecting England's innings then fell on Sam Billings and Moeen, with the required run-rate having gone past 10. They looked positive and their fifty partnership was a much-needed one for England as the asking rate by then had gone past 11 with six overs left. Pakistan managed to pick up the wicket of Billings just at the right time, who top-edged one to Imad at third man for 26 and that brought his 57-run stand with Moeen to an end.

With 62 needed from the last five overs, Moeen ripped into Shadab Khan, hitting him for three sixes in the over. He reached his second T20I fifty - a timely one - off just 25 deliveries and England's hopes rested completely on him. However, Lewis Gregory too got into the act to ease the pressure on Moeen. Gregory smashed a couple of boundaries off Rauf to bring the equation down to 30 off 18. Gregory's wicket brought an end to a blistering 44-run stand with Moeen.

Wahab bowled a brilliant penultimate over - first ran out Chris Jordan and then followed that up with a huge scalp of Moeen for 61 off 33, leaving Rauf 17 to defend off the final over. The equation came down to 12 off 2 and Tom Curran's six gave Pakistan a scare, but then a brilliant yorker sealed England's loss and Pakistan went home with a win under their belt.

Earlier, half-centuries from Hafeez and Haider powered Pakistan to 190 for 4. Haider became the first Pakistan batsman to score a fifty on debut and also the youngest after Umar Akmal to score a T20I half-century. Hafeez too set some records of his own. He not just equalled his highest T20I score, but also registered the highest individual score by a Pakistan batsman against England in T20Is.

England initially got off to a great start after Moeen picked up the wicket of Fakhar Zaman for just a single. As a result, Zaman now averages just 8.7 from his 10 T20I innings since 2019. Haider showed intent as he smoked his second delivery he faced for a huge six over deep mid-wicket. Pakistan captain Babar Azam then added to it but hitting three continuous boundaries off Saqib Mahmood. 

However, Babar too was cleaned by Curran in his very first over for 21 and Pakistan had reached 47 for 2 by the end of their powerplay overs. Haider looked to be in fine touch and had the experience of Hafeez to guide him from the other end. The duo brought up their fifty-run stand off just 31 balls and in a way had resurrected the innings after losing their openers in the powerplay.

Pakistan brought up their 100 in the 11th over and with wickets in hand, they were eyeing close to 200. In the meantime, Haider became the first Pakistan player to score a fifty on T20I debut, getting to his milestone off just 28 deliveries. Hafeez too followed suit, bringing up his fifty off 31, to go with his 69 from the previous game. They also brought up their 100 partnership off just 60 balls, but Haider was clean bowled by Chris Jordan for a 33-ball 54 right after that. Only twice before this have Pakistan put on 100 or more for the third wicket in T20Is.

Jordan was easily England's best bowler finishing 2 for 29 from four overs, which included nine dots. He could have added to his tally had Curran held on to a catch in the deep in the penultimate over. Lewis Gregory did well in the final over as he did not concede any boundary, but Pakistan still managed to put up a fighting total on the board.

Earlier, England had won the toss and elected to bowl, which was not surprising as the teams chasing have won 5 out of the previous 6 completed T20Is at Manchester.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 190 for 4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 86*, Haider Ali 54; Chris Jordan 2 for 29, Moeen Ali 1 for 10) beat England 185 for 8 in 20 overs (Moeen Ali 61, Tom Banton 46) by 5 runs.

Player of the match: Mohammad Hafeez

Player of the series: Mohammad Hafeez

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Pakistan tour of England, 2020England vs Pakistan - 3rd T20I - Pakistan in England, 3 T20I Series, 2020England vs Pakistan

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